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Hospitals have canceled elective procedures to prepare for COVID-19 patients. Photo: John Nacion/NurPhoto via Getty Images

UnitedHealth Group CEO Dave Wichmann told Wall Street analysts Wednesday that deferred non-urgent visits at hospitals and clinics are "offsetting COVID-19 costs," which helped the health insurance and services giant register a $3.4 billion first-quarter profit and temporarily keep its 2020 profit projections intact.

Between the lines: Health insurers aren't that worried about coronavirus costs yet. The groups that are in more difficult positions are people who are losing their jobs and health coverage and the medical providers who are losing business.

Go deeper

19 mins ago - Health

COVID-19 drives smell loss awareness, research

A health worker carries out an olfactory test outside Buenos Aires. Photo: Alejandro Pagni/AFP via Getty Images

The pandemic has thrust a relatively unknown ailment, anosmia — or smell loss — into the international spotlight.

Why it matters: Researchers hope smell testing becomes as standard as the annual flu shot, helping to detect early signs of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
2 hours ago - Health

Why we need to know COVID's origins

The WHO's headquarters in Geneva. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images

Geopolitical tensions are foiling efforts to get to the bottom of how COVID-19 originated.

Why it matters: Insights into how COVID-19 began can help us prevent future pandemics — especially if it involved any kind of leak or accident at a virology lab.